The Virginia House of Delegates approved a bill Tuesday that bans the sale, possession and transfer of assault firearms.
House Bill No 961, which passed the House by a vote of 51-48, would expand the definition of an assault firearm and prohibit the import, sale or transfer of assault firearms and of parts used in assembling or designing assault firearms.
It would also require people who already legally own such firearms to either surrender them by January 1, 2021, or apply for a permit to possess them after that date. The permit would only allow them to carry these assault firearms in their homes or in certain designated areas like a shooting range.
The bill has been quite controversial. On one hand, Democrats are pushing for the bill to become law, arguing that such restrictions on guns are necessary to prevent mass shootings. Republicans, on the other hand, contend that the bill would infringe upon Virginia residents’ Second Amendment rights. They claim that it would “criminalize law-abiding gun owners.”
HB 961 is the latest in a series of gun control bills, such as SB 35 and SB 69 and SB 240, passed in Virginia’s general assembly this year and also comes after the Second Amendment supporters’ march in Virginia’s capitol in late January.
The bill will now move to the Senate.